Dear Single Men,
It’s been a while since I’ve directed any comments your way, so lest you get too comfortable I thought I’d jot a note to light a fire under your collective rumps.
I may have reminded you before that most single women are not single by choice. (Is this ringing a bell? Okay, good.) You wisely pointed out that this is also true of most single men. Well said. Having gotten this far, I would like to add another piece to our logic: it’s time for you to stop ignoring the women over thirty.
I don’t plan to crack open the whole “Is it God’s will for me to be single?” bit, partly because I can’t decide for you and you certainly can’t decide for her; but mostly because the question itself goes against my understanding of God’s will as we know it. However I am certain of this fact: there are quite a number of magnificent adult women out there who would be better off with good men in their lives.
It’s startling to think about, really, because the women who do singlehood best make it look so effortless. They are engaged in fulfilling work, they are surrounded by relationships, they are maturing graciously, and they laugh often and delightfully. God be praised. But don’t be deceived. There may be a Christian woman or two in the world for whom singlehood is effortless, but I have not met her yet. Behind every gracious action and every appearance at yet another event alone lies a large dose of will power and heartache.
She has become a stronger person because of her life alone; I don’t deny it. And as a result, she is the kind of gem you will come across only once in a lifetime. She is serene. She is faithful. She is well-versed, well-traveled, well-rounded. She is truly beautiful.
And you almost don’t notice her.
She fits easily into the scenery of your local church, or mission, or school. You hang with the slim and ditzy twenty-year-old chicks and to you, she is just an Aunt Jane—the pleasant, wise, and completely safe person you so deeply admire. Platonically, of course.
Would you stop divorcing esteem from romance, and get Aunt Jane out of your head? You are not making this easy. She is a woman, and anything but immune to manly attention. She notices the way your eyes twinkle, the things you laugh at with her, the way you talk to a child. She knows that to you she is just a part of the scenery, but she dreams of a knight who notices.
Some of you have asked girl after girl, only to be met by a string of refusals, and I am sorry.
Ask a woman next time.
She may turn you down as well—though she longs for love she is not fool enough to accept anything with a beard—but her sympathies will be on your side and she’ll sure as shooting think about it. She will think about how good you are with children and what books you like and how you use your money. If you dream of Miss Gorgeous, she admittedly harbors hopes for Mr. Studly, but your lack of studliness will never be the deal-breaker. She knows enough of human nature to look deeper.
(And the minute she starts falling for you she’ll think you the studliest thing she ever saw. So it’s all good. Did I mention she’s a woman?)
I want to say this, with no disrespect to the hot young things: not one of them can hold a candle to her. She has a femininity that’s been tempered by time, mellowed, sweetened, tested by fire. She will comfort you as no one can comfort—follow your lead, admire your strength, and honor your manhood; time has taught her their value.
She is priceless. Thanks for noticing.
Thanks. It’s about time someone up and said all this.
a) that you said all this.
b) how you said it.
c) that you have the courage to say “collective r***s”
EXCELLENT! This should be required reading for all men, single and married alike.
wow! you can certainly say things just the way they are! Good job!
Oh preach it, sister!
There was one part of this that really puzzled me.
It was this: “I may have reminded you before that most single women are not single by choice. (Is this ringing a bell? Okay, good.) You wisely pointed out that this is also true of most single men. Well said.”
How is it possible that both single men AND single women are “not single by choice”?
I think we may have “choice” in fewer areas of our lives than we like to think. Some call it God’s Will, some call it The Choices of Others, some call it Life. I am saying both men and women may have reached (repeatedly) for things that did not materialize.
It’s so easy to offer solutions to others: You don’t like your job? Get another. You don’t want to be single? Get a wife. But sometimes the job is not forthcoming. Sometimes the wife does not want to be got.
But…………. You just said that the wife DOES want to be got.
No, I said “She may turn you down as well—though she longs for love she is not fool enough to accept anything with a beard.” We all want love, but not at any cost with any one.
A crucial distinction. 🙂
While it is true that, “we don’t want “love” at any cost with any one” I think there are a lot of single men who would ask out single women, if they were in an environment that encouraged it. It seems to me, that, the overreaction to casual dating has swung far too far in the other direction. We live in a day and age where it seems like a couple can’t have a single date without people making remarks about, “The Wedding.” To truly help those who are single, “not by their own choice” I think we need to work at creating an environment where it is safe to date without risking catastrophic heartbreak simply by asking a girl for ONE single date. The stigma that is attached to the “string of refusals” is particularly annoying to me. I am not advocating loose morals, but I fail to see the harm in encouraging girls to accept an invitation to date without attaching so many strings from the get go. If the gentleman is a christian and not someone she can’t stand, why not give him a couple dates and see if she might grow to like him. And, if after several dates they are not sure they want to see each other again, fine. But give the idea of love a chance to grow without so much undue pressure at “finding” the perfect mate. True love is not found, like a buried treasure. True love is planted, watered, and grown like a flower garden.
Full disclosure: I married the girl who I was never going to marry, but that was okay ’cause she was never gonna marry me anyway. You could say romance caught us unawares…….
Very, very well said, Chris. I couldn’t agree more. You seem to be borrowing thoughts from my follow-up post that’s waiting in the wings. 🙂 Thanks for this.
You’ve got some real good points there Chris. I’ve never been a casual dating fan but I have to agree with you that it may have swung too far the other way now. It’s like asking the impossible of a guy; he feels like he has to be sure before he ever takes the first step, but no way does he have anywhere near all the information he needs to make the decision at that point. If there’s one thing a caring guy couldn’t stand to do, it would be to cause “catastrophic heartbreak”.
I agree that the pendulum has moved too far the other direction. It’s a DATE! not an ENGAGEMENT!
I loved Shari’s blog-post. My heart stood up and cheered inside!
But I also cheer wildly for this comment of yours, Chris, and wave my pom-poms! Yes! Yes! Yes! I was safely married before the current climate of super-serious first dates and dating the father of the girl before you date the girl, etc., had descended like a cloak of fear and death on the romantic landscape. Somebody needs to peel off that ghastly cowl, and take a clear-eyed look at the damage beneath it.
At the very least we should change the rules for all those over 25 or perhaps 28. require the Dad talks etc. with the young crowd but consider it perfectly acceptable for mature adults to go out on a one-night date.
Thanks. I am sure I have never gotten a “wildly cheering pom-pom waving” reply to any comment I have ever posted before. I also liked your word picture concerning your experience. As though you were lucky to escape into the safety of the ark marriage before the pouring rain of super-serious courtship pouring down around you. And I do believe that the damage caused has been very real. I have witnessed it many times it and experienced it first hand as well.
“She has become a stronger person because of her life alone; I don’t deny it. And as a result, she is the kind of gem you will come across only once in a lifetime. She is serene. She is faithful. She is well-versed, well-traveled, well-rounded. She is truly beautiful.”
Yes, oh, yes. So very true.
You have hit the nail on the head! Well wrote! We just had a discussion on this this past weekend. I won’t say any more because you said it all!
As a single male, I am in your “hunting for a hot chick” category who has “been met with a string of refusals” (string may be an overstatement). I agree with your thesis that women over thirty are beautiful people and that single men should be more open to marrying them. However, I would not be writing a reply just to agree with everything that you said. This may suggest my rump is getting warm.
1) I get the sense from this post that my purpose as a single man is to satisfy the emotional needs of a woman. While that may be one piece of marriage, is it really the most important one? In my opinion, life is not about my feelings and emotions, but about what God deserves from me.
2) The single person’s loneliness/social awkwardness is often referred to as a bad thing. I suggest that it is one way in which God prepares people for the call He has on their life. Loneliness/social awkwardness is not comfortable, but then who said life is about comfort and convenience. It is my loneliness that reminds me of my need for God and His people. It is my social awkwardness that is teaching me better people skills.
3) Single men (and possibly women) have a hard time accepting dating/marriage advice from a married person because it often makes the single person feel like we are less human than the married person. We would appreciate our married friend’s time rather than their marriage advice. Celebrate our singleness with us and accept our life rather than subversively suggesting our life is less valid. Maybe if this would be a reality in our communities, there would be less heartbroken, lonely singles. I beg us all to acknowledge God is at work in our lives and that looks differently depending on choices, desires, and God’s Will.
Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Nathan. I hear what you’re saying. Come and have some more blueberry pancakes.
I love to rejoice with those who rejoice. In this post I am weeping with those who weep. I am surprised and sorry that it sounded to you like “subversively suggesting [that] life is less valid.”
My basis for promoting marriage has little to do with those poor women who need someone to buy them roses, and those poor men who have no one with whom to go on moonlit walks… and much more to do with (in my mind) some of the primary purposes of marriage: ending aloneness and enforcing selflessness. In this I am agreeing with God (ooh, I can pull the God card too 🙂 ) who said “It is not good that the man should be alone.” On your side, you have Paul, who celebrated and exalted singlehood. Now I ask you: Would you rather be on God’s team or Paul’s team? Just kidding; I’m trying to make you laugh.
There are definitely life stages and individuals marked by aloneness, and I agree it’s not all bad—I gave a hat-tip to that in my remark that her life alone has made her a stronger person.
I’m suggesting it is not the design—not long-term, and not for most.
So you truly did have something brewing. 🙂
I couldn’t agree more with the fact that the single women I know are some the rarest jewels on this planet.
I completely agree, and wrote nearly the same thought out, but perhaps less graciously. http://thedatingmanifesto.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/proverbs31/
I was one of those over thirty gems. I am now happily married. I confess, there were also disadvantages for my hubby to marry someone over 30. I was quite set in my ways and independent (a necessary trait as a single lady), and had a lot to learn about honoring my husband. But God has been refining me, and will continue to do so till the day I die. When they are young, they may be more trainable, if that is what they are looking for. But I agree, I had a lot more to bring to our marriage then I could have brought at 20.
Wowzers! That’s good. Yes, she can do most of moving herself, change the tires, pay the bills, cook food she often eats alone…but there are times she’d be super delighted for the companionship, a prayer warrior, and a spiritual champion and soul mate to call her own. She may appear tough some days when she has to pull more than her share of the load, but deep within she wants to be cared for and dote on someone else because she knows that in the beginning God created couples for companionship and relationship.
I am a single woman turning 50 this year. Your post made me laugh and then it made me cry. I do not live up to your portrayal of single women, but thank you for the confidence you place in us. It calls us higher. I believe, with you, that singleness was not God’s original design and that it is not wrong to hope and pray for marriage. My question is, where are the single men who are free in their spirits? I think all the baggage we carry around often prevents us from being able to love God fully, much less love someone else. I am not looking for a perfect man, just someone who is fully alive.
I could have a lot to say about this!!! 🙂 I was 39 when my boyfriend proposed, and 40 when we married!! 🙂
God’s design in the garden was marriage. But now that we live in a fallen, broken world, I don’t think that plan can ever be fully realized here!!
Yes, we get married or we walk single, but either way we live very inferior lives to what we will have in heaven above!!!! Yes, we can have strong, healthy marriages, that is not what I mean.
But there is so much pain and there are so many things not perfect in our world now. We do not live in paradise whether single or married!!! Either way we should not make our happiness and our comfortable lives an end in themselves!!!
I do believe in connection and fellowship, but singles can have that, too, can’t they?
You may not agree with me, but I feel the Apostle Paul’s words in the NT make a good blueprint to go by!! What path has God asked me to walk,?
As a single I had lots and lots of girlfriends, where I worked at CLP, we were actually in the majority. I lived with an older single lady and did not feel alone very often!!! But I know that is not always the case.
Are there not more opportunities for the singles in service for the Lord? is this not a Biblical thought?
I loved your post, I truly agree that a man looking for a wife should not always look where he first thinks!!!! What is attractive and chic may make for very poor wife material!!!
I think our ‘Mennonite’ culture can tend to put marriage and family on a pedestal, that it wasn’t necessarily meant to be. One is not better than the other, but it matters where the Lord calls in this season of life. We are equal in Christ!!!
Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but whether married or not, may we long for the day when life will truly be ‘right’ in heaven because the air is filled with love and perfect relationships and with the glory of all that He has promised forever and ever!!!
And yes, my wedding day was so full of happiness and joy, my cup was running over and over. And yes, I married a wonderful man!!! But on the flip side, I have cried many tears since we have married over things neither one of us could control!!! 🙂
I couldn’t agree more. I am not 30 yet and married. I have 10+ single friends over 30 who are beautiful, talented and thriving. I watch single men from ages 28-40 marry ladies in their early 20s. I wonder why they didn’t notice the lady right under their nose who is just as eligible. I understand that everyone’s story is different and we can’t put a label on men or women who are single and the reasons why. I love my friends’ single lives – they travel and do things that I cannot easily do. I know they long for someone to take care of them, someone to make sure the car gets the maintenance it needs and takes care of the projects around the house.
This is a very well written post! Thanks for the good read!
Well, I met and went to school with and taught school with some fine single women… but the slim and ditzy twenty-year-old (um, sixteen-year-old) chick was the one who caught my eye. Love ya, girl.
I’m glad she did!!!!
Very well said, Shari!
I also agree with the comments that the needful shift away from casual dating has taken some of us to the ditch on the other side of the road.
I know that there are beautiful single women over thirty, and if I knew I could become like them I don’t think I would mind the prospect of becomming an older single woman. But I’ve seen many older single women become either…
1. The Overly Dependent Woman
…who at age 30 is still living with her parents, still working her little job at a small Mennonite-owned business, still has to call her Dad to come change her flat tire, etc, as though she is still twenty and expecting to get married any minute now.
2. The Overly Independent Woman
…who has a career and her own place and can change her own tire, but who never has to ask for help, and isn’t very soft, empathetic, kind, or mothering. Who has, in a sense, lost a great deal of her femininity.
I do agree with your post. I just don’t agree that singleness primarily makes a woman more beautiful. It is extremely scary to me how often it doesn’t, especially as I could see myself becoming an overly independent woman.
So are you saying anyway you look at it single women can’t get it right. Either they are too dependent or too independent. They cannot attain a middle ground such as a married woman seemingly can?
I certainly hope I wasn’t saying that! I’m sure we all know single women who have attained a middle ground. From my observation, it seems like married women have an easier time maintaining this middle ground than single women, but I don’t know exactly why that is.
Maybe it doesn’t have as much to do with marriage as it does with motherhood. Mothers are forced to be very capable–able to think for themselves, making a lot of hard decisions–yet also very soft.
I immensely admire the single/childless women who manage to be both capable and soft.
hmmmm, I can never have children so I get a little nervous at these words about motherhood keeping one soft. Maybe it doesn’t have so much to do with motherhood as it does keeping an open hand to life. Hope does good things to a heart. Maybe it’s hope and an open hand that makes a woman beautiful and keeps her soft?
I agree with “from the woodwork” that it isn’t motherhood that keeps a woman soft. Otherwise there is no hope for me either, and I refuse to embrace that lie. Besides, I have seen plenty of mothers who are not soft.
I agree with “mourninglory.” I was thinking how married women and single women really do have a lot in common. In other words, we have different circumstances, but at the core, we have the same needs. I think finding the “middle road” and keeping soft open hearts is a challenge for all women whether married or single.
I know this comment is almost three years old, but you need to know that you are still absolutely right!
Enjoying this discussion!
In our world, selflessness does not come “naturally” to anyone, married or single. But Emily is onto something in describing the alternate paths that are more easily walked.
Remember I’m describing a slice of single women–“those who do it best”–those who’ve allowed the grace of God and community to force them out of self-life into beautiful character and service. Perhaps the reason they’re so striking is that they’re set against a backdrop of other women, both married and single, who took the easier path.
As an older single woman, I just have to say that there will always be people who think I’m too independent and people who think I’m too dependent. I have had people tell me I need to be more willing to ask for help and others who tell me I need to learn to do things on my own. I even had one friend tell me I needed to ask for help more often, but when I asked her for help and felt like I desperately needed it, she was very reluctant to help. What I’ve discovered is that people love to help when it’s something like finding a mate or keeping a juicy secret, but when it’s real nitty-gritty life stuff like help with figuring out what’s wrong with my car (or even just finding a mechanic I can trust) or moving furniture, they’re not really interested in helping.
While I was on the mission field, the married couples and single men would often offer to help with any leaky sinks, heavy lifting, etc. I was somewhat shell-shocked when I returned to the states to find that people just weren’t that interested in helping each other out. We live in an extremely individualistic society and that mentality has seeped into the church as well.So that overly independent woman may be just that because she has no one in her life willing to help her when she does ask, and after a while, she stops wasting her time and just does it herself.
Single or married, we are all just women. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don’t. I myself veer wildly from the Overly Dependent spectrum to the Overly Independent. I married at 30 (just barely; I turned 31 on the honeymoon), but I suspect I would veer just as wildly if I were still single.
I think God knows what we need to mold us into better women, and He is completely able to bring us the circumstances that will help Him mold us. Marriage or singlehood or motherhood or any other hood are all equally useful to Him!
Great article, Shari! You put your thoughts together in such a compelling and inviting way. I enjoyed this article. I’m going to pass it along. 🙂
The point is well made. And very enjoyable reading.
One comment on the loneliness/social awkwardness that was mentioned above: In a genuinely Christian community, isn’t that as much the communities problem, as the individuals? In other words, if the culture of this community (that is supposedly centered on what Christ taught) is such that single people are struggling to find a place of acceptance and sure footing, the double people need to work hard to change that culture.
I enjoyed your post, Shari and I also very much enjoyed reading the comments. 🙂 I would totally agree that we have in our area so many beautiful, inside and out, single women. They’ve been such an inspiration to me as a married woman. I too, have wanted to grab some of these single men and help them see what is right under their nose! 🙂
I enjoyed reading this post and the comments as well. I have some thoughts as one of those older single women.
When I was younger I wanted very much to get married. I fasted and prayed about it, I worked on character development, I was “meek and quiet”. 😀 I sat back and waited for the Lord’s leading and male leadership. It didn’t work. So I tried to be “available and inviting.” That didn’t work either. It was exhausting.
So I started living my life for me. I don’t mean that in a selfish way, but rather I stopped trying to figure out what the men wanted and (trying to) changing myself to be that. I spent 10 years overseas, I went to college and got a degree. I moved into my own house. I got a job I absolutely love. I make as much money as the average man in my church, in fact I make more money than my married brother who is raising six kids. Am I one of those intimidating independent single women? Probably. But frankly, that whole “single women are too independent” thing irritates me. Because if I wouldn’t take care of myself, who would?? And if a man is not attracted to me because I am educated and can think for myself, then I don’t want him either. 😀
My point is that I as a woman in a Mennonite culture can’t do a thing to change my single status. So in that sense you are preaching to the right crowd, to the men. You probably won’t change anything, but kudos for saying it out loud. And on that cynical note. . .have a lovely day. 😀
Wow, except for a detail or two, I could have written the same as single and independent. Though I’ll add, pushing 40 and never so much as been asked for a date.
At any rate, Thank-you, Shari, for writing.
I am immensely pleased to see you tackling this subject, Shari. This is one of my soapboxes as well! 🙂
Loved it. I have many unmarried friends over 30, and sure wish some decent guys would notice them!!!
I completely disagree with the sentiment of this article. It is this whiny rhetoric that permuates this topic that young men find repulsive. Whining with a lack of willingness to look in the mirror and be honest about what’s really happening on the deeper level. This article validates a victim mentality where it’s all the fault of other people (especially those *shallow, misguided young men who have no taste for a good woman*). I close with an article by Henry Cloud, who has forgotten more of this topic than most of us will ever know….
– About me: I’m a 28-year-old male, mechanical engineer, doing well for myself, good with kids, and not married. I hope this doesn’t come across as too cynical, but I want to give another man’s perspective on this.
– Caveat 1: I’m not a Mennonite, though I grew up that way. These may or may not be applicable in the Mennonite context, but will hopefully give you a better idea of what’s going on inside our heads.
– Caveat 2: I’m just trying to give a man’s honest perspective, and I certainly don’t mean to offend.
– Caveat 3: If you’re old enough to be my parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent, please understand that things have changed drastically from the time when you and your spouse were dating…there’s a lot more going on here than just men refusing to “man up.”
– Nathan’s point #1 above was right on the money…for the life of me, I can’t figure out why so women try to sell me on the idea of getting married by saying “GeneralJelly, you could make a woman very happy.”
– As though the woman’s happiness should be the deciding factor for a man in whether or not that man should get married.
– Most men in my generation endured a lot of friend-zoning and a lot of rejection between puberty and our late 20’s…not disparaging you ladies for it, you absolutely have a right to say “no” to men you don’t find particularly attractive, especially if you think there’s a better fit out there for you.
– BUT. However. Men absolutely have that same right, and a lot of women seem to forget that a time will come when the shoe is on the other foot.
– When men see a single 32-year-old, a lot of us don’t see a woman who’s “not single by choice.” What we see is a woman who spent her 16-29 years rejecting or friend-zoning guys like us…only to turn around and act all interested in marriage once the crow’s feet started appearing and the hotter guys stopped paying attention to her.
– No, I’m not saying that all women are like that. Many aren’t, and reached 30 still single for a variety of other reasons. But many others are, and I’m old enough to now to have seen some of these women make that transformation.
– If you’re a single over-30 woman you might not be like that, however the onus will still be on you to convince a man that you’re not.
– On the other hand, I and many other men like me hit our late 20’s/early 30’s and have a vastly different experience.
– Suddenly we find that our maturity, career success, and so on make us far more attractive to younger women than when we were younger…personally, I’ve dated more 18-19 year-old’s since I turned 27 then I ever did when I was in college.
– So, to recap: young women are much more willing to go out with dudes like me than they were when we were younger. Meanwhile, the women in the demographic that did nothing but reject us are now aging and spouting off about how they’re better wife material than those young women.
– Color me crazy, but I think a lot of us just can’t figure out why we should listen.
– One more thing: a lot of young men have a sort of desperate need/desire for female companionship from puberty onwards, a deep-seated psychological desire. If women as a gender are smart, they will take advantage of this, because that deep desire in men doesn’t necessarily last forever.
– At 20, I couldn’t imagine being happy and single forever. At 28, I am unmarried, childless, and happier than I would’ve ever imagined being when I was 21. Can I imagine never marrying and being very happy with that decision? Absolutely.
– So if I’m going to trade my single life for married life, it’s going to be on my terms…period, end of story. When “nothing” is a pretty awesome life, men are not going to have any qualms about holding out for “perfection or nothing.”
Finally this is an article I came across awhile back, you might find it informative as to what’s going on in men’s minds nowadays:
I think when people say “You could make a woman very happy.” they mean it as a compliment. In other words, “You are the kind of man a woman would be proud to call her husband.”
Maybe it could also mean “You ought to quit being so selfish” but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it used that way.
It can be both, really. It depends a lot on the context…sometimes it’s a compliment like you describe, and sometimes it’s much more of a “man-up-and-make-women-happy”
No specific questions, but you made me smile and frown and think–So, well done. 🙂 I’ve never heard that side expressed so clearly before. Thanks for commenting.
Awesome! That’s exactly what I was hoping for…I find that women generally don’t understand our perspective any better than we understand yours.
But I believe very strongly that when everyone can understand other’s perspective, everyone ends up happier for it, hence the mini-essay 🙂
I get this because one of my brothers has been turned down multiple times. but do remember there are a lot of single women that have never been asked.
I am wondering about that oft repeated statement: “There are a lot of single women that have never been asked” It seems to me that it is often given as a “perfectly plausible reason” why a single woman is single, as though their is nothing at all a single woman can do about the matter. And I guess in a way that is true for some women. There are more women than men in the world, therefore, if ALL the men got married there would still be single women. That is just a fact. But I think there is more here than meets the eye at first glance.
Nobody asks the obvious question, the one begging to be asked? WHY? Why, has she not been asked? I think the answer to that question will shed a lot of light on the state of marriage and singleness in our world. Aside from the fact that there are more women than men, I believe there is one major reason nobody is discussing. There has been a significant shift in the way we have taught our young girls to view life and marriage. For instance, if any 16 year old girl in a Mennonite setting were asked to write a school newspaper article on her goals for the next ten years what she would write might be interesting, but I think what she would NOT write would be extremely telling. How likely do you think it is that her article would read like this: “In thinking of my goals for the next ten years I have come to the conclusion that I really have only one main goal. I want to marry a good christian man and fulfill God’s call to be a help meet for him.” That kind of thinking is unheard of, even scorned, in Mennonite circles today. Girls are being taught to desire a host of other “once in a lifetime, only while you are young” experiences (travel abroad, a job, college, voluntary service, mission work, etc.. etc…) experiences that marriage will “mess up”. And so, after ten years or more of these “exciting” and “fulfilling” experiences marriage looks even more dull and boring than it did at sixteen. And they aren’t shy about expressing this. Hence, no proposals.
I would like to say this: in our Mennonite culture, men are looked on as the leaders. Now before I go on, let me assure you I am totally in agreement with this. However, this mindset can cause women to feel helpless when it comes to the dating/marriage question. The man is expected to do the asking while the woman is taught that to even think of a man as a potential spouse before he has asked her is wrong. That I think is key in the example of the girl who would never say her goal is to get married. She could feel she has no right to give any indication as to who she would like to date, no say in the matter until a guy comes knocking, and therefore it is easier to talk of other things. This could also play into the “once in a lifetime” experiences. These other things keep a girl busy and occupy her thoughts so she doesn’t have time to think of how much marriage really means to her.
But hasn’t the man always done the asking in the Amish/Mennonite/”Plain” culture? Why is marriage so much bigger a hurdle for girls than it used to be?
I do not think it is coincidental that the average age of marriage in the Amish/Mennonite/”Plain” culture has been steadily rising at the same time that the age of marriage in the United States has risen. The average age at marriage in the U. S. has risen from 20 for women and 22 for men in 1960, to 23/women and 26 men in 1990, and now it’s 27/women and 29/men. I don’t have any concrete numbers, but in looking around and talking to friends family etc. I see almost exactly the same trend in the “Plain” cultures.
I think the secular culture we live in has influenced us in ways that we don’t even realize.
So then in light of this discussion, say a single sister is a real gem but not noticed because of the family she is from, and has never been asked for a date because she came from a less then ideal home which is no fault of hers. Is it ever right for her to give a mature single young man some nudges toward starting a friendship?
I don’t have a good answer for you. Men and women do give each other nudges whether they intend to or not–but when a relationship is deliberately pushed without words, it has the potential to become extremely uncomfortable to the other party.
Openness to relationship is a beautiful thing; man-chasing–not so much. There is a surprisingly fine line between the two.
I think the trend you’re describing is an issue for some women. However, I’ve met a few women whose only goal in life was marriage, and they were unbearable.
I have to add this. In most cases for girls the outwardly beautiful ones get picked first. Many older single girls were never asked at least that has been my experience. And I have groaned more than once when woman were chosen obviously for their outward appearance, rather than their character. There are a lot of plain Jane’s out there who have never been asked because good Christian guys never looked past her plain Jane to her beautiful heart. There I said it…;-)